There’s no shame in celebrating your anniversary with the usual dinner and a movie. But if you’re looking to do something different this year, here are some creative ways to honor the occasion:
Visit your respective hometowns. Swing by the homes(s) you grew up in and the schools you attended. Share important childhood memories—both good and bad. Then take your partner on a date to your favorite local restaurant, ice cream shop, or coffee house. The adventure will help you and your partner better understand the places, people and experiences that helped define you.
Do Something Your Partner Loves (That You Don’t)
Make a real sacrifice and do something your partner is crazy about (that normally makes you crazy—be it a golf tournament, musical or baseball game). The strategy will only work, though, if you maintain a good attitude throughout the experience. You don’t have to love the activity; just enjoy the happiness it brings your significant other. Or, support your partner in something he or she has always wanted to try (e.g., sky-diving, learning an instrument, horseback riding, etc.). For your anniversary gift, pay for any necessary lessons or materials. Join in the fun or at least cheer your partner on from the sidelines.
Enlist friends and family in an affirmation blitz for your partner. Have them (discretely) send you 15 words or less describing something they love about your significant other. Set a deadline for the responses and send a few reminder prompts. Compile the various messages onto archival-quality paper. This paper can then be placed in a frame, a scrapbook or a memory box.
Renew Your Vows
Renewing your vows is a meaningful way to honor your spouse and your commitment. A vow renewal ceremony can be a way to recreate the wedding you always wanted (but perhaps couldn’t afford at the time). But it doesn’t necessarily have to be a lavish or public affair: Consider repeating your wedding vows to your partner as part of a private annual celebration. Light a candle, look into each other’s eyes and reaffirm your love and devotion.
Take Your Dream Vacation
Particularly if you are celebrating a major anniversary milestone, use the excuse to take that trip you’ve always wanted. If you and your partner have drastically different ideas of a dream getaway, take turns. If you plan ahead and are willing to live within a budget, most couples can scrape enough together. Or if you’re feeling especially adventurous, take a road trip … without a road map. Pack everything you might need, pick a general direction and then hit the open road.
Go on a ‘Staycation’
For the financially-challenged, a staycation is a great alternative. Abide by the same standards you would on a vacation to a remote paradise. Disconnect from the Internet. Put your smart phones away. Don’t touch the television. Focus all your energies on your partner and on relaxing together. To make it feel more like an escape, pick a virtual destination: mountain cabin, tropical retreat, etc. Carry this theme through to meal selection, wardrobe and atmosphere.
Start a Couple’s Journal
Purchase a journal and commemorate each year together by writing down what you are grateful for; try to fill an entire page. The things you appreciate don’t have to strictly be about each other. (Although you should definitely throw a few of those in!) But focusing on the positives in your life—including your partner—will help you keep perspective.
Give a Personal Gift
Instead of a store-bought present, give your partner something truly unique, like a digital collection of your favorite songs (or songs that make you think of him/her). Or, keep the dying art of handwriting alive by penning an old fashioned love letter. If you are a creative type, craft an original song, poem, or painting. It doesn’t have to be fine art; it just needs to come from the heart.
Share Your Story with the Kids
Over a family meal, tell your kids how you first met, why you fell in love, and why you are still in love. Your story is, in a way, their story too. Once you’ve shared with your children, kick them out of the house. Just kidding—but do try to get a sitter for the evening. For your love story to continue, it is important to make time for just the two of you.
Do the ideas above sound a little too ambitious? Pick your two or three favorite movies and have your partner do the same. Then spend your anniversary weekend relaxing together. Between films, discuss what you love about the movie and why; this reveals something about your respective beliefs, personality, sense of humor, etc. Having your partner’s favorite movie munchies on hand adds a nice, thoughtful touch.
However you choose to celebrate your anniversary, keep the focus on honoring your partner and revisiting the commitment you have made to him or her.